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Dr. Jim Bailey
Guiding You to Work that FIts
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Work-Life Blog

About Your Work-Life

Three Reasons Employers Hire the Wrong People

Most of my career coaching clients don’t know that I’ve also helped dozens of businesses straighten out the challenge of having a difficult employee. Usually a business owner or manager tells me the person they want me to work with began as promising hire, then somewhere along the way managing that person became a challenge or her/his competency seemed to erode.

Most of the time the “new challenge” was actually rooted in the employer failing to get the right person in the job. Here are some common themes that I’ve noticed:

Most employers now are using some type of online Job Search Engine to find their new hires. Job search engines aren’t evil but they often use narrowly defined job descriptions and keyword searches because people don’t have the time or mental capacity to think about what would best describe the job for which they’re hiring or looking. The best search engine job postings spend less time applauding the business who is hiring (you’ve seen these listings) and more time explaining exactly what the hired person will be doing, and where and with whom they’ll be doing it.

Employers seldom ask whether someone who performs well in one job is as well suited to a position with different responsibilities. In 1969 Lawrence Peter noted that organizations that promote employees for good performance often place them in roles that don’t match their competency. “The Peter Principle”, as most know it, is easily understood from the comic ineptitude of Michael Scott on TV’s “The Office”. In real terms it’s often the salesperson being promoted to sales manager OR the “details” person put in charge of big picture operations – tasks for which they have limited (or no) talent. Managing, training and growing the competency of others requires skills and abilities few actually possess. Employers need discerning eyes and minds (or the help of an objective talent evaluator) when making internal promotions or hires.

Perhaps the most dangerous question employers fail to ask is, “Will a person will fit the culture we’re trying to cultivate in our organization?” Many employers focus only on the tasks they want completed and ignore important things like whether the person will fit the work culture of their business or has the character qualities they want. Sure, they may follow up with reference checks to verify a prospect’s truthfulness, work ethic or the accuracy of their résumé but they rarely ask probing questions that reveal the person’s temperament and moral and ethical make-up. Does the person fit what we’re trying to build, accomplish or stand-for should be pivotal in the mind of every interviewer.

I routinely offer business owners, managers and HR professionals a free phone call or face-to-face conversation to discuss strategies to avoid errors like these or correct hiring missteps. I make the same offer to individuals who find they have been promoted out of the work they loved into something that doesn’t really fit them. If you’re one of these folks please reach out to me – I’m certain it will be worth your time.

James Bailey